MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Mesa County’s voting equipment can no longer be used and a criminal investigation is underway after a security breach as it was being set up for the upcoming 2021 election.
The matter first came to Colorado’s top election official’s attention when a secure specific password for Mesa County election systems was posted online in August.
The Secretary of State’s office reached out to the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s office on Aug. 9 and issued an order that the office allow Colorado’s Department of State inspect voting systems and records.
According to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, they got no response from county Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and still have had no communication to this day.
Watch the full press conference with Secretary of State Jena Griswold in the FOX31 NOW player below.
Nonemployee had access to Mesa Counting voting equipment
On Aug. 10, Department of State officials arrived in Mesa County and with the help of county officials, inspected voting systems and records.
The department noticed that video surveillance of Mesa County voting equipment was turned off before a system upgrade “secure build” that was scheduled for May 25. The evidence suggests the Mesa County Clerk’s office directed staff to do this.
According to Griswold, a person named Gerald Wood, who was not employed by the county and should not have access to the equipment, was in the room as the setup process was underway and was able to record video that showed passwords unique to the Mesa County equipment.
Additionally, there was a two-day lapse in chain-of-custody records for the equipment following the unauthorized access.
Griswold said the video of the passwords was shared online by a known conspiracy theorist, but the passwords themselves can only be used in person by someone who has physical access to the machines.
Moving forward, Griswold said this equipment in Mesa County can no longer be used. This means the county will be required to replace the equipment before the end of August or the county will need to conduct a hand count for its upcoming election.
While Griswold did not share any specific details, she said there is no reason to believe that any of the other counties in Colorado had similar breaches.